2011/01/27 – Published
User experience has in recent years become the greatest area of fraud and theft in business. Because the output documents appear simple huge numbers of people without any formal knowledge of what goes into them are having a go. Avoid designers, look for Architects and Consultants, with an MSc and good client references (but not a portfolio) which can be viewed on LinkedIn.
The most common request for people involved in user experience is to produce wireframes (low fidelity pictures) a task that a child could do. Wireframes should be the container document for standards, insights into target audience expectations, business KPI’s and brand values.
The real problem is that recruiters and clients don’t know what they should be getting for their money. A good indicator that someone is ignorant is a request for a portfolio. A portfolio is a set of images that express the capability of a designer involved in architecture, graphics, fashion design etc, but it is not relevant for UX. The reason it’s not relevant is that the complex ideas within wireframes need an expert to review and validate them against standards. If the interviewer does not know the standards, frankly they deserve to be fleeced, it’s like employing a plumber to represent your interests in court instead of a solicitor because they can make a good argument. The action of the argument is not important, even if there are lots of buzz words included because legal matters like usability matters are complex interrelated sets of rules and dependencies.
So unless an expert does the review the activity is pointless, a secondary but probably more damaging problem is ownership, rights and breach of contract. Wireframes contain information on “How it Works” not “How it Looks”, how something works is the inventive element and belongs to the client. If clients are not protecting their Intellectual Property in UX, they really should be quite aggressive about it, but all contracts have a provision for this protection asking to see UX work from clients is a breach of contract and breach of IP. Asking people to show a UX portfolio is asking people to breach their contracts.
If you or your team require training on interviewing UX people please contact me.